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ABN AMRO's perfect Circl

26th January 2024

Circl, a 30,000 sq ft pavilion developed by investment bank ABN AMRO next to its Amsterdam headquarters, was one of the world’s first buildings to adhere to circular economy principles.

The project’s use of recycled materials reduced the embodied carbon in its development and it also did not include elements typical to similar bank buildings, such as marble floors and elaborate glass and steel elements. The building’s final form reduced the quantity of materials used by one third, 2,425 tons, from the original plans. 

Dutch timber was used in place of a concrete structure some partition walls were previously the façade from another building. Hardwood flooring on Circl’s ground floor was recycled from a former monastery and from a Dutch football club. Insulation was created from recycling 16,000 pairs of jeans. The building’s design is such that many of these elements can be recycled at the end of its life. 

The use of recycled materials did present ABN with a particular problem: gaining a building permit took a long time because the project’s final shape was not clear until the materials had been sourced. Having design determined by materials rather than the other way round is highly unusual for modern commercial real estate, although historically it has applied to most buildings.

This article originally appeared in Sustain in 2022

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